Published Jun 14, 2019Leonard Cohen's love letters to muse Marianne Ihlen have fetched a serious penny at auction. In fact, the collection of more than 50 letters to the woman who inspired "So Long, Marianne" sold for nearly $1.2 million, with many going for five times their pre-auction estimates.
The collection of letters to Ihlen chronicles both their passionate love affair in the 1960s and Cohen's sudden rise to fame.
As auction house Christie's announced, the top-selling letter was one Cohen wrote in 1960 about being "alone with the vast dictionaries of language." The letter sold for almost $75,000, but it had the initial estimate of $13,000.
Another letter from 1964 found Cohen writing "I am famous but empty," and that sold for more than $46,000.
The highest-selling item from the five-day auction, however, was an Italian bronze bell from the 15th or 16th century that hung in the home Cohen and Ihlen once shared. It sold for more than $107,000 and had pre-sale estimate of $16,000.
The letters, which span from 1960 to 1979, were sold by Ihlen's family, but the auction house did not reveal the identities of the buyers.
After first meeting in the 1960s, Cohen and Ihlen went on to have a long-standing romantic relationship. Not only did she inspire the classic "So Long, Marianne" but the songs "Bird on a Wire" and "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye."
Cohen and Ihlen died within months of each other in 2016.
As previously reported, the new documentary Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love shines a light on the famed love affair. The film is being directed by Nick Broomfield, and it's set to hit theatres on July 5.